Dead of Winter.

Today is a snow day. I’ll get my boys home all day (the third day off this week). We’ll play and read and watch a movie and drink hot chocolate (cold for Asher). It will be a great day.
I love snow.
I love winter. No, I don’t. But the Pollyanna in me loves parts of winter. I love Christmas, I love hot chocolate, I love sweaters and scarves, and one other thing.

When I was growing up in Florissant we lived near the Desloge Mansion.

I would pass it every day on my way to school. But only in the winter, when all the leaves had fallen off of the trees and lie decaying on the ground, could you see the house from the road. It was something I looked forward to seeing on my bus rides in the cold winter months.

I met some of my high school friends at our old favorite coffee house a few weeks ago. So much has changed since I lived in Florissant, but nothing had changed about the Alaska Klondike Coffee Co. 

On my way home I took the chance to take a tour of my old house and our old stomping grounds, making sure to pass down Shackelford Road to glance at the mansion. Nothing had changed about the mansion either. Or at least nothing from my point of view: driving 35 miles an hour past the mansion that sits 7 football fields away…

There’s another house that can only be seen in the dead of winter on my route to church. In stark contrast to the Victorian mansion, a dilapidated shack sits engulfed in brush and vines just across from the gas station on Olive Street.

In the google maps picture there is no sign of anything beneath the full, thick leaves of the trees of summertime. The only hint from the side of the road is a chain-link fence that may have once deterred people from intruding upon the occupied house. But it is now, no barrier of the allure of an accessible shack hidden from the rest of the world.

Abandoned homes and buildings may be appealing to all sorts of delinquents, but why is it so appealing to me? There’s a hint of adventure. It’s surrounded by mystery and intrigue. What in the world makes someone completely abandon a home?

I imagine that it was once someone’s farmhouse. They lived in the house during the growing season. I imagine a woman wearing a blue flowered apron rushing around the kitchen, well before dawn, with fresh brown eggs and warm milk straight from a cow making a hearty breakfast for the hard working men in her house. In the winter months, when the leaves lie decaying on the ground in front of her house, she would pack up her family and move back to the big city to be closer to civilization.

When the Great Depression hit, the man of the house couldn’t take the pressure, so he trudged off to the farm house and hung himself there. The family couldn’t bare to ever go back, so they left the house to mother nature; to be taken over and hidden to the world by brush and thorns. A perfect image of their broken hearts being overtaken by grief and pain.

Or maybe the house was built in 1967 and was shared by a group of pilots as a kind of co-op residence when they had layovers in St. Louis. When the flood of 1993 damaged the house, it was abandoned. Since it had been paid for decades ago, it was left alone and forgotten.

Either way, I love how in winter, the veil of leaves get pulled back and hidden treasures are revealed.

It makes me think: what excess of “summer” is concealing hidden treasures within us? When all is pulled back, what is revealed? A mansion or a rundown old shack?

Do we need a sort of “winter” to drop the lush green leaves and let them decay on the ground in order to find out?

Summer seems to be the season of fun.  Things may be more relaxed, but we’re busy keeping busy all summer long aren’t we?  Do we need to take away the fun for a minute, get serious and examine what’s behind all of the brush?  Am I stretching the analogy too much here?  Probably.

What do you think?  What needs to be pulled away.  What will it take for you to examine your own heart?

 

Roller Coaster

I’ve been talking a lot lately about how hard life can be as a parent.  I thought you could see how fun it is too:

 

Right now, at this moment Isaac is using our downstairs bathroom and Asher is using our upstairs bathroom.  The boys are yelling back and forth and telling jokes.

Isaac yells: Why did the goose cross the road?

Asher yells back: Because he wanted to get goosed!

Isaac yells: No!  Because the chicken was tired!

Asher asks him to repeat it because it was hard to hear through two floors, two doors, and over whatever other noises may be echoing in their bathrooms. So Isaac does.

Parenting.  Fun?  Yes.  Funny?  That too.

It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions.

 

And I love roller coasters.

 

It takes a village.

In the past month, I’ve heard from Isaac’s teacher, Asher’s teacher, their art teacher, gym teacher, and music teacher.  I sat in a meeting with the counselor, the reading specialist, the occupational therapist, a gifted specialist, a psychologist and a couple of other people I didn’t catch their specialty.

The end story is, I’ve got a really smart and special kid.  He’s sweet and kind.  He’s a people pleaser and a class clown.  He loves to make people laugh.  He loves to read, and write, and build.  He’s very creative and more interested in his own daydreams than what may be going on around him.  All of these teachers love Isaac and think he’s great but are concerned that he’s not as focused as they want him to be.  His lack of attention to detail may lead him to under perform when he’s perfectly capable of doing better.  We made some plans and have a few strategies in place.  We’ll keep an eye on him and as the years  go by and school gets harder, we’ll readjust when we need to.

All of that stress, for a cushion in his chair, some cotton balls in his pocket, and a timer on his desk.

In the meantime, I’ve been frustrated and I’ve cried.  I may have screamed a few times as well.

Today, I am happy.  I am proud of my boy.  I am hopeful for our future and I feel like I have a better grip on how to parent my son.  All because it takes a village to raise me

Throughout this month, I’ve had a husband who kept me sane.  My family has been praying for me and supporting me.  I’ve had friends who have told me that they were there once.  I had a sweet friend, who was where I am now 15 years ago, remind me in a very tangible way that it’s all worth it.  I had a friend stop me in the middle of Costco who looked into my eyes and saw into my heart.  No words were spoken, but none had to be.  I had a bunch of groups of friends I just spent time with and laughed with and they eased the stress of the day.

For someone like me, who dreams about living in a cottage alone in the woods, and not seeing another living soul for stretches of years.

That’s a big deal.  That’s a revelation.  Even I, who definitely enjoys solitude, need people. I need friends.  And I’m so thankful God has placed them in my life.

 

God, thank you for my friends.  Thank you for my mentors.  Thank you for my family.  Thank you for creating us for relationships and thank you for the people in my life who stretch me and force me to enjoy those relationships just like you planned for us.  Thank you for my boys who are perfect in every way.  They are the masterpieces that you created.  Just the way you wanted.  Help me to continue to see them for who they are, not who I want them to be.  Thank you for letting me be their mother.  May I follow in the example you gave us as you showed us how to love each other.  Amen.